As is City’s wont over the last 10 years of Trust ownership, on the pitch it just wouldn’t be the same if there weren’t minor blips along the way to contrive to give the Grecians an uphill battle. Last season a late capitulation against Rochdale all but sealed City’s relegation, and this season a late capitulation against Rochdale means automatic promotion is probably beyond the grasp of Paul Tisdale’s side – not only that but the likes of Fleetwood are breathing down City’s neck in terms of extending the season into May and a third Wembley appearance. Injuries picked up in the damaging defeat to that lot down the A38 meant Tisdale had to make several changes on Monday, with Guillem Bauza earning a rare start. Tom Doherty was one of the casualties of Saturday, his appearance in Cornwall was deemed a risk worth taking and looked to have been the right decision until he limped off at half-time, and it remains to be seen whether he will feature in City’s penultimate home match of the regular season. John O’Flynn also missed out against Rochdale, and will hope to be back for the visit of Dagenham & Redbridge.
It’s fair to say recent weeks have seen something of an upheaval on the outskirts of East London. John Still, at the time just one of four managers in the top four divisions who could claim to be longer serving than our own Paul Tisdale, suddenly upped sticks and dropped a division to replace Paul Buckle at Luton. In his place on an interim basis has come Wayne Burnett, but he will be all too aware that a recent run of one win in their last ten games (albeit a particularly pleasing one for them as it came at Steve Evans’ Rotherham!) has seen the Daggers drop into the relegation dogfight, and they are currently 17th, just 3 points clear of York in 23rd place. With their last two matches against the current bottom two, defeat on Saturday could really ensure it’s “squeaky bum time” in Dagenham. One recent signing that has seemingly slipped under the radar is of someone who featured at the tail end of City’s doomed campaign last season – Jonathon Fortune, who was without a club since being released by Barnet, has signed for the Daggers, although he has yet to find his way off the bench. One player to watch out for will be Josh Scott, who has been in decent form since returning from a loan spell in non-league with Ebbsfleet. Scott has the distinction of having scored a hat-trick against City, in a pre-season friendly for Hayes and Yeading against a scratch City XI comprised almost exclusively of trialists and youth players.
The match at the “London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium” (Victoria Road to the purists) came during City’s awful October, and City came away with a 1-1 draw – the Daggers led through Medy Elito, and should have been further ahead by half-time but for a penalty that was sent into orbit, before a much better display from City in the second half saw an equaliser through Jamie Cureton. The last time City hosted the Daggers was during the latter’s single season in League One and finished 2-1 to the Grecians. Romain Vincelot put Dagenham & Redbridge ahead with 15 minutes to go, but goals from Matt Taylor and Richard Logan sealed the points. City have the overall lead in head-to-heads, 7 wins to the Daggers’ 2 (6 draws), and have yet to taste defeat at home in this fixture.